Land Rover Defender 90 2015 review

Autobiography special edition celebrates 4x4’s luxury side in style

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

Land Rover’s trio of Defender specials should cater for every kind of fan of the original 4x4. While the top-spec Autobiography is double the price of the Heritage Station Wagon, the hand-finished interior and striking looks are sure to make it a sell-out.

It’s the end of an era for the Land Rover Defender. To celebrate the venerable Brit’s standing as the ultimate 4x4, we inducted it into the Auto Express Hall of Fame earlier this year, while Land Rover itself is sending the model off in style with its trio of Celebration Series models.

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The Heritage and Adventure versions pay homage to the Defender’s history and its go-anywhere spirit, while the Autobiography driven here is the pinnacle of urban luxury. It’s going to be the rarest model of the trio, too, as only 100 examples will be built, plus it will only be sold in the short-wheelbase 90 Station Wagon bodystyle.

There are plenty of distinctive touches to help the Autobiography stand out, including a two-tone paintjob, gloss-black wheels with chunky Goodyear off-road tyres, aluminium-finished door handles and fuel filler cap, tinted rear windows, silver running boards and bright LED headlamps.

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Climb into the cabin, and while the cramped driving position remains, some of the pains of driving the Defender are eased by the plush, heated leather seats. There are more aluminium trim pieces inside, while hand-finished leather is added to the dash, headlining, doors and central armrest cubby.

Deep-pile carpets provide further comfort, and a premium Alpine stereo with a meaty subwoofer bolted to the back of the armrest rounds off the upgrades, although the face-off head unit does seem a bit old-hat.

• Land Rover Defender tour: witness the last days of an icon

Under the bonnet, the 2.2-litre diesel has been uprated to 148bhp with 400Nm of torque, but while the Autobiography model is faster than the standard Defender, it’s not quick. The driving experience is no different, either, with heavy steering, a large turning circle, a six-speed box that needs a bit of force to shift and a ride that bounces you out of your seat over speed bumps.

However, despite all of the car’s negatives, including the eye-watering £60,000-plus price tag, the Defender Autobiography’s character and charm draw you in like no other model on sale. The combination of design and detailing that wouldn’t look out of place on the King’s Road and first-rate off-road ability means it’s the ultimate in 4x4 style with substance.

For an in-depth buyer's guide on the Land Rover Defender from Classic and Performance Car click here...

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